Saturday Symposium: The Conflation of Celibacy and Ex-Gay Ministries

Hello readers! It’s been an exciting month in our household. Lindsey has returned to full-time work and is having a blast. Thank you so much for your prayers and support over the last several months. We remember many of you and your loved ones in our prayers.

Now let’s discuss our new Saturday Symposium question:

How this works: It’s very simple. We ask a multi-part question related to a topic we’ve blogged about during the past week or are considering blogging about in the near future, and you, our readers, share your responses in the comments section. Feel free to be open, reflective, and vulnerable…and to challenge us. But as always, be mindful of the comment policy that ends each of our posts. Usually, we respond fairly quickly to each comment, but in order to give you time to think, come back, add more later if you want, and discuss with other readers, we will wait until after Monday to respond to comments on Saturday Symposium questions.

This week’s Saturday Symposium question: We’ve seen a lot of articles lately discussing LGBT celibacy. With ex-gay ministries like Exodus closing their doors, Christians opposed to homosexuality are having a harder time saying, “God can help a gay person to become straight.” Several authors have argued that Christians opposed to homosexuality are increasingly saying, “God can help a gay person be celibate.” Yesterday, Lindsey reflected upon how embracing a celibate vocation requires rejecting the sexual ethics of ex-gay ministries. This week, we are interested in how people could critically discuss the sexual ethics found in many ex-gay ministries. Why are so many people falsely equating celibacy with ex-gay ministries? How can people affirm the celibate vocations of LGBT people? Is there a way to talk about LGBT people choosing celibacy out of obedience to their Christian tradition without equating this choice to ex-gay approaches? What rhetorical traps have you observed people falling into when arguing against celibacy? Are there ways to talk about destructive messages associated with conservative sexual ethics that do not also promulgate a different set of stereotypes about LGBT celibates?   

We look forward to reading your responses. If you’re concerned about having your comment publicly associated with your name, please consider using the Contact Us page to submit your comment. We can post it under a pseudonym (i.e. John says, “your comment”) or summarize your comment in our own words (i.e. One person observed…). Participating in this kind of public dialogue can be risky, and we want to do what we can to protect you even if that means we preserve your anonymity. Have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings,

Sarah and Lindsey

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4 thoughts on “Saturday Symposium: The Conflation of Celibacy and Ex-Gay Ministries

    • That would be an interesting idea, particularly if there were celibate gay Christians who considered themselves as survivors of ex-gay ministries present.

  1. As a not-even-remotely celibate, married lesbian, I see a huge difference between the stories of celibate gays and those of ex-gays. Celibate gays tend to understand and affirm the love and closeness that sexually active gay relationships provide- that being gay or lesbian isn’t all about lust and sinfulness. They also understand and affirm the fact that people don’t choose to experience same sex attractions, sexual or otherwise, and that God doesn’t generally take these feelings away and replace them with heterosexual feelings as a reward for being good enough.

    I think the thing that worries people may be this sense that many Christian groups/denominations/parishes see gays and lesbians as a problem in need of the one correct solution that will fix it for all time, so that they don’t have to worry about lgbt people ever again. Insofar as “celibacy” is a candidate for the position of “final Christian word on all lgbt issues, forever,” it is only slightly less problematic than praying away the gay was.

    • You bring forward a great point that for many churches, homosexuality is a problem to be solved rather than seeing LGBT people as people to be loved. Additionally, it doesn’t help that many churches are looking for the one-size-fits-all silver bullet solution.

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